Guilin has always been famous for its scenery and for centuries, painters and poets have used the city as a measure for natural beauty. Even Guilin's name, "forest of sweet Osmanthus," lends itself to its natural beauty. Most famous are the limestone karst peaks that scatter the city.
The city was first organized in 214BC during the Qin dynasty. It became a center for transport when the Ling Canal was built, connecting the Zhu Jiang and Chang Jiang systems. Under the Ming dynasty, Guilin served as a provincial capital until 1914.